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A&M, Slive Trend On Twitter

Not surprisingly considering the number of media in attendance and the amount of fan passion in the SEC, but just about everyone who steps onto the main stage in Hoover winds up trending on Twitter — first Mike Slive and then Kevin Sumlin.

As one Texas A&M fan after another has posted on Twitter… the Aggies are running in a whole new conference these days.  All that talk of R. Bowen Loftin and the A&M board of regents wanting more national exposure for their university?  Well, they’re getting it.

In July.

For what’s basically a 30-minute Q&A session.

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Slive Talks SEC Network… A Little

In his opening remarks to the media horde at SEC Media Days, Mike Slive addressed the much discussed “Project X,” which you should all know by now means a potential/probable SEC-only channel created in partnership with ESPN:

 

“There has been a whole lot of speculation about “Project X.”  Is it still a secret?  I don’t think so.  But we now call it “Project SEC.”  Our objective long-term to work with our television partner to provide fans with greater access to favored teams, more opportunities to watch rivals, and more inside into who we are — a conference of 14 great universities. 

I’d love to say more.  I know you want me to say more.  I won’t say more.  I will, though, before I get too much older and before you get too much older.”

 

Back in May of 2010 we at MrSEC.com wrote that with expansion would come new inventory and with that inventory the league could still “create its own SEC Network.”  It sure sounds like that’s exactly what’s going to happen in the not so distant future.

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SEC Commissioner Slive At The Podium – 7/17/12

Away we go with Mike Slive taking to the podium in Hoover, Alabama.  Last year was his “agenda for change” speech.  Let’s see what he comes up with today.  (And don’t forget… hit refresh as we keep this blog updated.)

* Slive points out that when he took over as SEC commissioner 10 years ago, he’d never even stepped on an SEC campus before.

* After listing his initial goals from 10 years ago — financial security for the league, better academics, fewer scandals, and continue on-field successes — Slive then made it clear that the league has reached many of his goals ahead of schedule.  To be honest, it’s a real “brag-first” speech from Slive.

* The commish points out that 62 national titles in 16 of the SEC’s 20 sports in the last 10 years.

* Also points out that the hiring of minority head coaches no longer makes major news.

* The SEC has nearly tripled the revenue it distributes to its schools over the past decade.

* Slive now talking about his “agenda for change” speech of a year ago.  Says he still wants to provide full cost of attendance scholarships for athletes.  (No wonder, the SEC is one of the few leagues who could do it… further separating the haves from the have-nots.)

* More NCAA rule changes are needed, according to Slive.

* Slive referred to the Penn State mess — not by name specifically — to show that new systems must be set up on college campuses to protect those “who can’t protect themselves.”

* Slive says his league is as strong in the classroom and in the community as it is in competition.

* The commish says both Mizzou and A&M “fit” into the SEC culture.

* For the record, Slive is one of those guys who says, “Missourah” rather than “Missouri.”  I need Tiger fans to tell me who says “ah” and who says “i” and why?

* Slive hitting on how much national exposure the SEC gets from its deals with CBS and ESPN.  Points out that the league’s syndicated package reaches 80 million households including New York and Los Angeles.

* Slive says “Project X” is now known as “Project SEC” and the goal is to give fans more access to their favorite schools.  He wouldn’t give details, but he did hint that an announcement will come not too far into the future.

* The new playoff is “unequivocally” good for the SEC.

* Slive says the new selection process will cause schools to re-think their non-conference scheduling plans, according to their existing conference schedules.

* The “Champions” Bowl “will be placed “in a bowl to be determined.”  Slive says the game will be owned by the SEC and the Big 12, but it does sound like it is definitely going to merge with some existing game.  Jerry Jones’ mouth just started watering.

* So far, Slive has quoted Winston Churchill, William Shakespeare and Muhammad Ali.

* “We are not resting on our laurels.  No champion can.”

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Slive To Kick Off Media Days 2012 With “State Of The League” Speech

SEC commissioner Mike Slive takes his place behind the mics to officially open up his league’s three-day media event in just about 15 minutes.  We’ll provide you with a summary of his big points in a live, running blog — hit refresh from time to time if you need to — and then we’ll swing back around with some direct quotes.

Meanwhile, anything of note that happens in another room or on radio row… we’ll keep you updated on that, too.  More than 1,000 passes were handed out to media (and fans disguised as media) for these events.  Quite honestly, anything can happen.

Over the next few hours we’ll give the live blog treatment to Slive, Kevin Sumlin, Steve Spurrier, Gary Pinkel and James Franklin.  And it all gets underway shortly.

Stay tuned…

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What The SEC Needs As Playoff Talks Commence

Let the games begin.

Today in Chicago, commissioners from the 11 FBS conferences and the athletic director from Notre Dame will meet to discuss the future of college football’s postseason.  Lines of battle have already been drawn with the Big Ten and Pac-12 on one side, the SEC and Big 12 on the other, and the other eight entities all falling somewhere in between.

Heading into today’s get-together, Mike Slive has made it clear that he’s only interested in a system that welcomes in the four highest-rated teams in football into a new playoff.  He’s willing to discuss the idea of a selection committee, but he knows — as we’ve written — that a selection committee might not necessarily mean “the best four teams” get invites.  Depending on who’s on such a committee, conference champs only might get nods while higher-ranked teams stuck in — oh, let’s say — the SEC West might get denied.

ESPN’s team of bloggers have spent the past month simply taking the positions of their respective conferences and kissing up to their readers.  The back-and-forth-and-back again between the Big Ten and SEC writers has actually gotten a bit nasty at times, no doubt spurred on by the management of the four-letter network.  Pac-12 writer Ted Miller yesterday took up the argument of the conference he’s supposed to cover (not root for) when he said:

 

“The SEC folks were just ridiculous with their ‘four best teams’ chicanery.  When SEC commissioner Mike Slive kept repeating ‘One, two, three, four’ to reporters last week, what he was really saying was, ‘The SEC’s priority is maintaining subjectivity as the key component of the college football postseason.’

Understand: There is no ‘one, two, three, four.’ There are only opinions and computer formulas. You might note that no — zero — pro sports use a ‘one, two, three, four.’  They all have divisions.  To advance to the playoffs, you must win your division or win a wild-card spot.  In no case is there a subjective voting process or selection committee.”

 

Miller then goes on to promote the “Delany Model” which is Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany’s “four-champs-if-they’re-ranked-in-the-top-six” overly-complicated plan.

Now, what’s unbelievably silly is the fact that Delany’s plan and any other plan involving conference champs only will be just as subjective as a 1-2-3-4 plan.  In all cases, some form of ratings will have to be assigned.

Which conference champs are best?  Does the Sun Belt champ equal the Big Ten champ?  If not, why not?  Who says?  They’re both conference champions after all.

The argument against using rankings is such mind-numbing drivel that it annoys the pants off anyone who can actually use logic to step all of one step down the road.  “We don’t like rankings.  Now, let’s rank the conference champions.”  You’re… still… using… rankings!

That’s akin — not to go all “Prometheus” on you — to saying: “A-ha, there is no God because we were created by a race of aliens!”  Well, who created the race of aliens?

Oh.

All that said, we don’t do a lot of kissing up or rooting around here.  According to our inbox, we’re supposedly “haters” of all 14 SEC squads and we’re not quick to support every Mike Slive move (cough, cough, the league’s new football and basketball schedules) the way ESPN’s writers often fall in line behind their assigned leagues.  So…

Here’s what SEC fans should be hoping for when it comes to the next month of playoff talks.  No, it’s not exactly what Slive wants, but if compromise is necessary then he should be willing to yield in some areas.   (He should be used to that after allowing ADs and coaches to hijack the bus on the SEC’s new scheduling plans.)

 

1.  A four-team playoff

Duh.  The SEC would probably do quite well in an eight-team playoff world, but that’s not even on the table.  What’s back on the table, though, is a pure Plus-One model that would simply take the two best teams after the bowls and put them together in a title game.  Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott and the Big Ten presidents supposedly favor such a plan or — in the presidents’ case — the status quo.  This would solve nothing, of course.  Instead of picking two teams before the bowls, college football would just pick two teams after the bowls.  A third team would still scream and the sport would still lack a true champ.

Therefore, anything Slive needs to do compromise-wise to insure a change to a four-team system, well, that’s what he needs to do.  If he’s interested in the fans’ desires.

If he’s interested in what’s best for the Southeastern Conference, then he should be A-OK with the status quo.  Slive’s league has won six BCS titles in a row, it’s had the only two-loss team invited to a BCS title game, and it’s the only league to have both combatants in the BCS title game.  In 14 BCS seasons, eight times an SEC school has been crowned king.  The BCS works for the SEC.  Ironically, this is what so many writers are missing.

Those who say Slive is only interested in what’s best for his league fail to grasp the fact that the current system has actually proven to be what’s best for the SEC.  But Slive isn’t pushing the status quo.  He’s pushing what’s best for the game and fans — a four-team playoff.

So if he really wants what’s best for the fans — a playoff — then he needs to be willing to consider a compromise model that would include the top three ranked conference champs and the next highest-rated team in the nation.  Such a plan could have landed Alabama a spot in last year’s playoff (depending on whether or not a selection committee would have done the picking and who would have served on said committee).

 

2.  Semifinals tied to bowls with the title game bid out

This, too, looks like a probability.  If so, SEC fans should be alright with such a result.  The highest-seeded teams — uh-oh, there’s that subjectivity again — would host the semifinals in their “anchor” bowls.  According to most of the chatter, the current BCS bowls would make up those anchor bowls.  So if a Pac-12 or Big Ten team were ranked/seeded #1 or #2, yes, they’d host their opponent in the Rose Bowl.

For the SEC, their current BCS bowl partner is the Sugar.  The Big 12′s is the Fiesta.  But those two leagues are creating a so-called “Champions” Bowl that will likely be bid out to different city every year.  Would the “Champions” Bowl then become the SEC’s anchor bowl for a semifinal game or would the Sugar continue to host the SEC’s top-ranked team?

Money-wise, the league would be better off if the “Champions” Bowl replaced the Sugar.  Once a city has won the bidding war for the national championship game, the SEC and Big 12 could then put their game up for bid.  For those cities who lost the title game, the “Champions” Bowl could be their entry into the three-game playoff mix.  That would be worth a lot of cash to a lot of cities.  Therefore, that would also be worth a lot of money to the SEC, the Big 12, and their member institutions.

As traditionalists, we at MrSEC.com would hate to see the Sugar Bowl/SEC tie die away.  But if money’s on the table — and money’s driving this boat, folks — the SEC should hope the semifinals wind up as anchor bowls and that their own “Champions” Bowl can somehow end up as their league’s anchor game.

 

3.  A hybrid selection process

Everyone loves a good selection committee right up until they actually do their selecting.  Every March, the NCAA hoops committee is crucified.  Every May, the NCAA baseball committee is keelhauled.

We’ve already made our case for a selection process that would use three different components — committee, poll, and computer formula.  It can be transparent.  It can be weighted to favor conference champs or strength of the schedule.  Most importantly, it would play the same for everyone and negate the issue of bias.  With three equal components, one single person’s bias would have much less of an impact on the overall selection process.

SEC fans should hope that computers or polls somehow play a role in determining the four-team field.  As noted above, that system has favored Slive’s league for 14 years.  So fans of SEC teams need to cross their fingers and pray that the polls and computers aren’t chucked altogether in favor of a pure selection committee.

 

4.  Presidential approval

Once the commissioners reach a deal on a playoff plan, it will ultimately be a group of school presidents who’ll give that plan a thumbs-up or thumbs-down.  The goal was for the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee to study and vote on the plan by June 26.  We don’t see any way in the world that that happens unless some of the big boy leagues cave quickly or everyone walks in to these meetings with their phasers set to compromise (and that ain’t likely).

According to Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com, Virginia Tech’s president is the committee’s chairperson.  Also on the committee are presidents/chancellors from Florida, Fresno State, Louisville, Nebraska, Northern Illinois, Notre Dame, Southern Cal, Texas, Tulane and Western Kentucky.

Florida and Texas will be pro-playoff.  Notre Dame will be pro-playoff so long as the Irish have a clear route of entry.  Nebraska will likely be against a playoff.  As for the rest, it will all come down to self-interests.

And just because there’s lots of cash to be made doesn’t necessarily mean the presidents will go along with the commissioners’ recommendation.  There have been millions of television dollars up for grabs for years and no one’s pushed a playoff through.  We’re a lot closer to that happening now, yes, but nothing’s guaranteed.

 

So to summarize, if you’re an SEC fan you should be hoping for:

1.  A four-team playoff taking the four highest-ranked teams or a “3 champs, 1 wild card” compromise, if necessary.

2.  The semifinals to be tied to anchor bowls and for the “Champions” bowl to become the SEC’s new anchor bowl (so it can be bid out for enormous cash)

3.  Any selection process that involves polls or computers rather than a straight selection committee

4.  Presidential approval of all of the above.

 

Good luck.  And let the games begin.

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SEC Headlines – 6/12/12

1.  ESPN’s Mark Schlabach breaks down the playoff battle brewing between Jim Delany and Mike Slive.

2.  Could a playoff system really cut the little guys from the little conferences out of the race altogether?

3.  This NBA mock draft has the top three players coming from the SEC.

4.  The manhunt for the alleged shooter at Auburn goes on… after police raided the wrong Alabama house.  (Two arrests have already been made in the case.)

UPDATE — Police now say reports of them raiding the wrong house are inaccurate.

5.  This writer says Gene Chizik is the right man to help lead AU through its current tragic crisis.

6.  Mark Richt’s new contract at Georgia states: “It is expected that the recruitment of junior college student-athletes will be kept to a minimum…”

7.  Andy Staples of SI.com says UGA’s drug policy is noble, but it puts the Dawgs at a disadvantage.

8.  Joker Phillips has ended two long Kentucky streaks for futility, but there are still more streaks to snap.

9.  Tennessee’s Cuonzo Martin is taking his hoops program to children across the Volunteer State.

10.  Vanderbilt’s James Franklin thinks the SEC “is difficult enough” with an eight-game football schedule.

11.  According to The Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, Missouri will be an underdog in six of its 12 SEC games this fall.

12.  Sad.  Just a sad day for sports and news coverage.  (Link fixed, sorry.)

 

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Slive Weighs In On Expansion And Realignment

SEC commissioner Mike Slive and his fellow presidents have been beating one drum for months now… and those drums only got louder after last week’s SEC Meetings.  “We ain’t lookin’ to expand.”  (Standard caveat: Unless all hell breaks loose everywhere else.)

Well, Slive spoke with AthlonSports.com about expansion and further conference realignment — earlier this spring — and, yes, his message to them was the same he’s repeated since.

Asked if all the conference shifting is good for college sports, Slive said:

 

“Whether it’s good or not good I think will be something we’ll be able to judge in the future.  Is it good for the SEC?  I think it will be very good for the SEC. Is it good for college sports?  I think it might.  The question of rivalries is always underlying these questions.  We would love Kansas to play Missouri and Missouri would like to play Kansas.  It’s not the SEC or Missouri that’s not making that happen.  We would like A&M to play Texas.  It’s not the SEC or A&M.  It’s Texas that says they don’t want to play A&M.”

 

As to whether or not the league is finished adding now that it’s hit the number 14:

 

“I still view 14 as an extension of 12.  Going beyond 14 is no longer an extension of 12.  Maybe the Pac-12 and Big Ten scheduling alliance may be their way of answering that question.  I can only speak for us. I think it’s going to take us some time to absorb these two institutions.  At this point, I don’t see us adding more.  We’ve never been trying to get 14 so I don’t see us necessarily trying to get to 16.”

 

Feel free to insert snarky “16 is an extension of 14″ comment here.

Yesterday, rumors hit Twitter and messageboards that big athletic news could/might/maybe come out of Tallahassee this weekend.  But Big 12 officials continue to say they’re happy at 10 and that they haven’t had any talks with Florida State.

Sure.  Just don’t be surprised to hear someone in Dallas say at some point: “12 is just an extension of 10.”

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SEC Announces Current Hoops Schedule Model Is For Three Years

The SEC has officially decreed today that:

 

* The SEC’s new 1-4-8 basketball scheduling format will be in effect for 2013, 2014 and 2015.

* Over the three-year span, each school will play its permanent rival six times and the league’s other teams four times each.

* The official men’s basketball schedule for 2012-13 will be announced in August.

* The tournament — as announced last week — will feature all 14 teams.

 

During last week’s SEC Meetings, Mike Slive said that the league’s 6-1-1 football scheduling format would be in place for at least “three or four” years, which seems to match up with the hoops plan.

This could mean a couple of different things.  First, it could mean that the SEC is well aware of possible shifts in the college sports landscape that could lead to further expansion and render these schedules moot anyway.  Second, it could mean that these plans caused so much debate that no one feels perfectly secure in them.  Or third, it could suggest that the league wants to keep its options open depending on its ongoing television negotiaions and the possible need for better inventory.

One thing we do know is that the current hoops format will keep a return to a two-division set-up off the docket for at least three more years.

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Ex-SEC Commish Kramer Says Everything’s Cyclical; If Only The SEC’s Current Custodians Understood That

Seldom does a schedule-related story appear on our site that we don’t point out how cyclical things are.  Schools rise and fall and rise and fall again (as we wrote just yesterday).  For that reason, we have steadfastly stated that SEC scheduling — in football and in basketball — should be based on tradition more than any other variable.

The fact that arguably the SEC’s best basketball rivalry — Kentucky and Tennessee — is unlikely to remain a twice-a-year event so Kentucky and Florida — the hot teams now — can be paired up provides a perfect example of how the SEC is about to shoot itself in the foot by thinking short-term, not long-term.

But don’t take our word for it.  Listen to the man who set the SEC’s money ball a’ rollin’ 20 years ago with a first-wave of expansion and an SEC Championship Game in football.  According to ex-SEC commissioner Roy Kramer, who is good today might not be who is good tomorrow:

 

“Years ago, everybody wanted to play Florida (in football).  That’s the problem.  Everybody looks at it as the teams stand right this minute.  Times change.  Those things go up and down and even out.  Early on, everybody said we’d structured the divisions in such a way that the East was far stronger than the West.  Now, it’s the opposite.”

 

Still, many fans look at the latest standings sheet when trying to figure out their own dream scheduling scenarios.  Ditto SEC coaches and athletic directors.

Which is why Mike Slive — at least as of this writing — appears to have made a critical error in allowing those very coaches and ADs to decide the league’s future football and basketball schedules.  He’s basically allowed the kids to pick what’s for dinner.

“Hey, great, Hot Pockets and ice cream again!”

There’s what’s best for the schools — give us the weakest, creampuffiest schedule possible — and there’s what’s best for the league — protect as many traditional rivalries as possible.  Unfortunately, guys like John Calipari and Cuonzo Martin have zero clue when it comes to the heated rivalry that is Kentucky-Tennessee in basketball.  Folks like LSU AD Joe Alleva don’t get what’s so important about Auburn-Georgia in football.  And Slive’s given these guys the keys to his billion-dollar sports car.

So here’s hoping the SEC’s presidents will step to the plate today and break from their coaches just as they did last year on the oversigning issue.  But I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

"I've Got A Bad Feeling About This!"

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Slive Opens Up On Playoff And Expansion

SEC commissioner Mike Slive sat down for a Q&A session with the media yesterday.  Tony Barnhart of CBSSports.com has the particulars.  We’ll just hit on some of the highlights:

 

Asked if he had any doubt that a four-team playoff was on the way:  “I’d say the right word to use is ‘hopeful.’  We are committed to the four-team playoff.  We’ve been talking about it for four years and that is where we’re comfortable.  We support the four-team playoff.  How it’s done and where it’s done are issues we all have to discuss as a group… There are a number of issues that the commissioners still have to work through.  I’m hopeful that somehow we can find a place where we can all be comfortable. But our conference believes that if you’re going to have a four-team playoff then the best four teams should be chosen for that playoff.”

 

Asked would he compromise on a 3 champs plus a wild card plan:  ”I support taking 1-2-3-4.  I think that is the simplest solution and the one our fans will best understand and accept.  I believe that we are all guardians of the game and we should do what is best for the game.  Yes, we are responsible for our own conferences.  But I think we have to be careful about gerrymandering who should be in the playoffs.”

 

Asked twice about a possible SEC Network, Slive said on both occasions:  “We are currently talking to our TV partners about our TV future.”

 

Asked about further expansion:  “I was comfortable at 12.  We were comfortable at 12.  It’s institutions like Texas A&M and Missouri came and said they were interested in our league… We weren’t in an expansionist mode, and we aren’t in an expansionist mode now.”

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